"Worrying about tomorrow means that you are missing some of today" Corey Allan of Simple Marriage

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ahhhh ... it's time for New Years Resolutions

I have been having a think, on my walk with Stella-D, about how my life is shaping up, and what I want to achieve in 2012, since a new year and a new beginning all happens tomorrow.

I have decided I will be best to actually write down everything I do, and then alongside it everything I hope to do.  I think I might find that my biggest problem, along with a lot of people, is that I hope to do too much, so what I really need to do is prioritise what is most important and focus on those things, and then commit any 'spare' time to 'everything' else.

So tonights job will be to create this list, and how I plan to tackle it - month by month - starting, of course, with January!

I shall be back …

And here it is;



What I achieved 2011
What I hope to achieve 2012
Finances
Records of daily spending
Finances
Records of daily spending
Spending within my means
Debt free aside from mortgage
Farming
Hose out shed most mornings
Farming
Hose out shed most mornings
Milk four times a week
Finances once a week
MINDA once a week
Blog weekly
Photography
Increased sales
Good customer service
Daily records of finances
Photography
Increase profile and sales
Excellent customer service
Daily records of finances
Increase skills
Exhibition in Winter
Thorough backups and records of photos
Make a file of outstanding photos
House and Garden
House cleanish and tidyish
Flower garden planted and mostly weeded
Vegetable garden partly planted and mostly weeded

House and Garden
House on a cleaning schedule
Flower garden weeded weekly
Vegetable garden weeded weekly
Vegetable garden harvested when required
Berry garden birdproofed
Flower and vegetable seedlings ready in continuous manner
Friends and Family
Reconnected with Carmen
Reconnected with Heather
Friends and Family
More proactive with birthdays
Phone Mum and Dad monthly
Dinner monthly with Trent
Lunch monthly with Trent
Movies with Thelma
Email contact with Manda, Heather
Personal
Quit my job, less stress
Got engaged
Got accepted as foster parents
Walk Stella-D twice a day
Personal
Connect more with God
Get fit and healthy
Stop watching so much TV
Read more books
Expand breakfast/lunch/dinner menus
Walk Stella-D twice a day
Blog weekly
January 2012
Finances
Pay all bills in full, work out total debt or credit
Work out average weekly income from photography business
Work out average weekly expenses (including rental house)
Construct a budget to live within my means
Farming
Milk twice a week
Hose out most mornings
Get MINDA up-to-date
Read newspapers daily for weekly blog
Photography
Mark all events for January in calendar
Daily records of finances
Outstanding January photos to file
Study one chapter of Photography book
House and Garden
Follow cleaning schedule
One day a week vegetable garden weeding
One day a week flower garden weeding
One day (a month) seeds into punnets
Bird netting for raspberries
Friends and Family
Note all January birthdays
Go to Manda’s leaving
Email Thelma about movies
Email Heather to see how Christmas and New Year went
Work out what day of yearling sales to go to with Carmen
Julies wedding - 07th
Personal
Read Bible 5 minutes a day (starting anywhere)
12 week plan starts 16 January
Treat food - small amount twice a week
Walk Stella-D twice a day
Read Skywatch and select movies/programmes that I REALLY want to watch, write down day and time
Watch 1 x cooking programme a week for fresh ideas on what to make for meals
Read 1 x recipe book for fresh meal ideas
Blog weekly x fitness and general blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hens 'day'

My friend 'crazy Julie' had her hens day today (she is around 6 months pregnant, so a night was never going to be).  We started off at St. Beads, where we got to make beaded jewellery.  I made two bracelets for my nieces (and I wish I had taken photos as I quite liked them).  It was a tonne of fun, but a wee bit expensive (well what I made was, didn't have to be) so I had to stop myself after making the two, as I was about to go on and make myself something it was so much fun.  We then went for lunch at an old fashioned tea rooms.  Wasn't overly impressed - I had water, jug no glass so I poured it into my tea cup ('clean' - I don't drink tea or coffee) and it had nice dust floaties in it, my scone with jam and cream was $5.50 (wasn't that big, but very tasty).  After lunch we went to Bluewater Hotel and played mini-golf, which was a lot of fun (I was terrible, but it was still fun).  

I decided to come home after mini-golf.  The girls were just going for a drink, and since I am trying to quit soft drinks, and I don't drink alcohol, I didn't see the point.  So I came home, via Scotts Berry Farm, whereby I drove home while consuming a rather large punnet of strawberries - much better for me than McD's I figured, so all good!

Of course, since I had made the girls something I then had to go and buy C something, so he didn't miss out.  I bought him a book that had slide windows in it, which he currently loves, and it went down a treat.  He loved getting more presents a few days after Christmas.

Tonight I went around to my sisters, after tea at Mum and Dads, to give them all their Christmas pressies, and T's birthday pressie.  I felt a bit stink as sis had a friend with her two kids there, and I didn't have gifts for them, but I let them open the ones for sis and partner, so that worked out ok.  I didn't stay long as I am in a bit of a confrontational, opinionated mood and I didn't want to ruin their day by being a nag.  And speaking of being opinionated ...

I wrote a very long email to a 'farmer hater' today.  You can read it here at The Joys Of Farming.  I can be a little 'aggressive' so I ran it by my slightly cooler headed mother first.  She seemed to think it was ok.  I thought of a couple of changes I could have made after I sent it, but a bit late now.  Unfortunately (due to the out of office reply I got) it only goes to the manager, so I hope it gets passed on, once they get back to work, on the 9th of January (farmers should be so lucky to get such a decent break!)  It will be interesting if I get a response, and the kind of response I get.  I believe that, while I made it fairly clear I thought David Trubridge was a hypocrite and highly insulting, I was also polite.

Almost bedtime, but while I am still up - I am glad they have arrested someone over the brutal bashing of a 5 year old tourist in a holiday park here in NZ.  Saddened that he is only 16, but he obviously has some serious issues!  You can read that article here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I need to learn to focus

I was thinking today, about how I am currently involved in another obsession, and how it makes me fantasize about what I could be doing.  I googled a girl who was in my sisters class at school, who prepares thoroughbred yearlings for the sales, and she is now doing it very successfully, because I thought that that would be something I would like to get involved in.  Correction - I thought that that would be something ELSE I would like to get involved in.  And I realised, while walking the dog this evening, that I could and should have been successful at something BUT for the fact I flip flop from one idea to the next, I never, ever fully commit myself to anything, and once I am bored with the latest thing, I begin on another.

The trouble is I have been like this for as long as I can remember, except when a child.  When I was a child I was soley focused on all things horses.  I read horse books.  I rode horses.  I had horse pictures and ornaments.  And when I think back now, I really don't know why I gave it up.  Maybe I grew out of it.  Maybe my friends became more important than my horse.  Maybe, because my parents told me I could not have a job when I left school with horses, as I would never make any money,  I just no longer saw the point.  After the horse obsession came the photography obsession.  I took rolls and rolls and rolls of film.  I had my own darkroom set-up.  I spent hours upon hours in darkrooms, including my lunch hours at school.  And why did I not pursue this?  Too scared of failure.  Money.  And again my parents did not allow me to study photography at Elam school of Arts (Mum said it was dodgy).

So what has happened since I left school.  I went to University and studied psychology, then changed to biology, then back to psychology.  Then I left and mucked around for too long.  Then I finally went to polytechnic and studied photography for 6 months.  I struggled financially for the 6 months so did not bother to apply for the year course that followed.  I then worked in photo labs for a while.  Then I did a conservation course, and then went back to University and studied Science, with a major in Conservation and Ecology (I finally got my bachelors).  I then worked for Dept. of Conservation, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, Buddle Findlay Law Firm, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, a couple of information centres, Fonterra, and now I am self employed.

During this time I also lived in the Waikato, Wellington, back to Waikato, Queenstown, back to Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay, Central Plateau, Auckland, Hawke's Bay, and now Taranaki.  I actually do love moving around, but it does mean that I have no super close friends.

I actually think my lifestyle might stem from being unhappy, well actually not unhappy just permanently un-content - I always think something else is better.  I keep thinking, if I do THIS I will finally be content.  And I do it, but I get bored and it's not how I pictured it so I think, if I do THAT I will finally be content.  And I think, if I do that I am so going to do this and this and this and be this person that I really want to be.  And I never am.  I end up being a lazy ass and not applying myself and coasting along and not being as good as I could be.

And so my latest obsession is horse racing.  And so I fantasize about either owning a racehorse or breeding for sales, or preparing other peoples for sales, or owning a stallion and having stud fees.  And I have been watching the racing channel, and listening to the races, and betting on the races (very small amounts, but that adds up when you are doing it obsessively!)  But when I think about it, I also want to be a successful dairy farmer, and expand that business, and possibly breed top rate cows.  And then I want my photography business to expand.  Not to mention children ….. I just sometimes wish my mind would slow down!

Ack, I just think I need to write a(nother) list, and try and get my priorities sorted, and then each time I get sidetracked (and I get seriously sidetracked to the point nothing else gets done, like at the moment, nothing gets done as I am too busy watching racehorses and googling horse studs and trainers and trying to see if there are any jobs out there) …. ooops SEE, each time I get sidetracked I should go and read my list and refocus myself and remember what my goals are.

I shall get onto it now!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Basketball Hoop

So really, what does a woman turning 40 in two days time really, really, really want for her birthday?  That would be a basketball hoop, and today it arrived.  TJL has yet to find and fit a pole to it, and it is a bit on the plastic side so it might take some work to get it affixed to a pole, but I am sure TJL can do it as he is super handy.  I can't wait until it is up and I can 'shoot some hoops!'

Today I have spent a bit of time getting the spare room ready for niece GP's visit next week.  It is going to be interesting having her for 5 or so days on our own.  She is nearly 8, so I am sure she will be fine.  And she absolutely loves the farm.  I totally forgot to take a before picture (as per usual).  I will take an after one, once I have the sheets all washed and back on the bed.  It is amazing how musty/dusty they smell after being stored for so long.  Of course that is all about to change now I am a full-time housewife.  I plan to have a roster where everything gets washed at least every 6 months (rather than when needed, like every 3 years ... bah ha ha), we will believe it when we see it!  Hopefully the room will be nicely aired for her.

Next week I will have to get the other spare room ready for my parents visit.  And the bonus of this is, then that is 2 out of 8 rooms clean and tidy!

Not to mention that I have survived 3 days without Coke, and I have managed 4 runs this week, so my healthy lifestyle is also beginning to take shape.  And I feel SO MUCH BETTER!  Much more happy that's for sure!

Well I had better get out and get the washing off the line before starting tea.

I  LOVE  THIS  HOUSEWIFE  STUFF!!

Monday, October 03, 2011

IVF first appointment

We had our first IVF appointment today.  I am so glad that I didn't have to travel to Hamilton for it, as it only took about 20 minutes.  Essentially all one has to do it say that you plan to pay for it and 'whamo!' it's all go.  


We should receive a letter in the mail in the next few days outlining what our next steps are to be, then hopefully I will be able to get it all underway with my next cycle (beginning on 16 October) or if not that soon, then next month.


I am not looking forward to the injections.  No-sir-ree-bob.  And there is only around a 30% chance of success.  And I need to lose 5kg's (working on it with the jogging).


But it looks like - here we go.


Arghhhh nervous!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Acupuncture

I had my first acupuncture session today.  I wasn't really all that sure on what to expect.  The jury is still out on the 'benefits'.  I am going back in a fortnight's time for a second session though, so it will be interesting to see how/if I have changed physically over the next two weeks.  I nearly fainted after needle three went in, but a bit of 'stomach breathing' saw me come right.  The ones she put in my legs by my shin bone - yuck, and when she twiddled them SUPER YUCK!  But I survived.

There were a LOT of questions regarding my menstrual cycle, but I guess that is to be expected when you are looking into acupuncture for fertility issues.

Three key things I took from the session - NO MORE SOFT DRINK!  It is bad, bad, bad for you.  I already knew that but I do so enjoy having a glass (or 3) of coke.
                                                                - Stop taking my antihistamine every day.  I shall give this up for the two weeks and see how I go,  in regards to the changes in me that she see's, and to see how I survive without taking them (increased sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes anyone??)
                                                                -  Stop having super cold and super hot drinks.  I only drink hot chocolate, and that is in the middle of winter, and I like them hot, hot, HOT!  But we are coming into summer, so won't be drinking them anyway.  Now, aside from ice-cold coke I do enjoy ice-cold water, thats ICE cold water.  But no, apparently it affects your gut bacteria so room temperature it is supposed to be.  Bah!

But, really, that's not too many changes I need to be making, and my health will be the beneficiary of this, so nothing to lose really (just dumb stuff like 'but I really, really, really want a coke').

The other thing she said was that she is glad I have quit my job, as I am so tired!  My pulse told her this, and I can not remember what my tongue told her ... hahaha.

I think it was good for me though, time will tell ...

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Day 3 as a .....

I actually don't know how to describe what I 'do' now I no longer have paid employment.  I am a house 'wife', farmers 'wife', relief milker, and photographer.  How does one put that under one heading?  Especially when I don't/won't actually be receiving any decent kind of income from any of it.  I'm a bit scared about not having my 'own' money, that's for sure.

It still hasn't sunk in that, in one days time, I will not be going back to work after my 'days off'.   I keep thinking that I have to be getting things done, as soon I will be back at work and won't have time.  But I do have time, and lots of it.  This makes me uber excited!

It also means that I have begun exercising to get rid of my 25+ excess kgs.  I have gone for a short (just over 20 minutes) run over the last two days.  The distance would only be a couple of km's, but one has to start somewhere.  I plan to do as many of the olex fun runs as I can, which have distances of 2.5km, 5km and 10km, as a part of my training plan.  The first one is in 2 weeks time, so I shall try to do the 5km distance, the rest I hope to do the 10km distance.

Bring on the rest of my life!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Excited trepidation

This Friday I am handing in my notice at work.  I will finish my employment on 29 September.  From this point I will not have any paid employment.  That's no guaranteed income for me.   I am apprehensive about this because I have have always worked for my own money, excluding a few short stints on unemployment when I was a LOT younger and much more ignorant, and the years I was studying at University.  And to be perfectly honest I think I would be a bit wack-a-doodle if I wasn't a bit nervous about such a big change.  I also know that I am not going to be comfortable spending 'TJL's' money, and I definitely will not be comfortable asking TJL for money.  I know he is fine with this decision, but I also know I am NOT going to be able to have the excesses of junk that I usually spend my $$ on (magazines and food are my two worst vices), which is actually a good thing.

I am excited though.  Excited to get out of the company I work for, and away from the gossiping, whispering colleagues.  Excited that I will have time to work on getting my photographic business up and running A LOT better.  Excited to develop more photographic skills and expand my portfolio, plus earn a bit of pocket money.  Excited to learn more about dairy farming, in particular milking two days a week for TJL so he gets a bit of a break each week.  Excited to have the time to get back into tramping and fitness (goodbye 20kgs of weight that I have put on over the last 3 years at my job), and to get back into visiting art galleries etc.  Excited to have the time to plant, care, and harvest a decent vegetable garden.  Excited that if TJL and I manage to get pregnant I will be able to nurture and take care of the pregnancy without the stresses of work.  Excited that if TJL and I don't get pregnant, I will already be at home, ready to take in Home For Life foster kids at a moments notice.  And I am excited that I won't be working 12 hour days, when there is only 6 hours worth of work to be done.

The excitement FAR outweighs the trepidation, and thus the reasoning for this decision.  I am so grateful I have TJL for this journey, as if I was alone I could not afford to do it, and many men out there today wouldn't let me do it either.  So thank you Lord for bringing such a wonderful man into my life.  Of course, if this does not work out for us (most likely scenario is that I will want more 'play' money) then I will have to find myself another job.  But I do plan to give my photography business my best shot (ahhhhh pun!) to avoid this.

Bring on my 'new' life in a months time!  Oh so excited, with a dash of trepidation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grumpy-oso

I was Oh So Grumpy the previous two nights.  Seriously grumpy.  No rhyme or reason for it.  Just being my usual ungraceful and impatient self.  Thankfully God is graceful, patient, and FORGIVING, and will give me yet another chance to redeem myself.

I have also apologised, perhaps to a level of annoyance, to TJL for my attitude the last couple of nights.  It can be hard to apologise when you don't actually know what was driving the behaviour.  I mean, I was just ANGRY.  Nothing caused it, I was just plain ol' MAD.

In an attempt to 'get over it' I took myself off on a drive.  I had thought that at the end of our road was a forest and so I decided to drive out and check it out (timing and distance measuring so next time I could take the dog). However, after driving for about an hour and a quarter I reached the end of the road and the road ended at ... someones farm.  So I turned around and drove home.  No DoC signs indicating any walks of any kind.  Nada.  Just a farm.  *sigh*   Oh well, it was a fun drive, and blew out some cobwebs.  As an indication of how windy the road was, the distance travelled was only 50km, pretty slow going.

And, as further apologies to TJL for my atrocious behaviour, I not only made pancakes for breakfast this morning, I have also just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies ... greasing much?!  Hahaha

Friday, August 19, 2011

Engagement cake - YUMMY

Work was terrible today.  I had no, no, NO samples in to test today.  That makes a 12 hour day very, very, very long.  I made it more bearable by leaving 2 hours early, after convincing a colleague to take my place in a quiz team tonight.  All I achieved at work today was washing other technicians dishes.  I strongly dislike these kind of days!

What was lovely was that a colleague of mine made TJL and I an engagement cake.  It was SO delicious!  We (my colleagues and I) ate half of it at work, and I got to take the remaining half home to share with TJL.   Just incredible, but very, very, very rich.

I am very pleased with my housekeeping progress this week, one day to go.  Each day this week I have, in the morning before work (and note I leave for work at 5.20am!), put away the previous nights dishes and put the previous nights washing into the dryer.  In the evening after work (arriving home at 6.30pm) I have cooked dinner, put on a load of washing, folded the previous nights washing AND put it away!, done the dinner dishes, laid out my clothes for work the next day, tidied up the dining room table (ie thrown away the newspapers and junk mail etc), and spent 15-20 minutes on the indoor cycle.  Tonight (because I got home 2 hours early) I also fed the chickens and the dog, sewed a button onto my jeans (as it fell off at work today!), and washed my colleagues cake container AS SOON AS I GOT HOME.  I also tried to ring and confirm my appointment at the Fertility Associates, but no-one answered after being on hold for 10 minutes so I left a message.

I'm actually tired just re-reading that!  Hahaha

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And yet I am calm

I got to hear another pregnancy announcement today.  Fabulous.  Lady is early 30's, always 'broke', and just in a casual relationship (I actually don't know THAT much about it but that is what she told me).  The great thing is she thought to tell me in private (as we were walking to our cars after work), rather than letting me hear it in a work announcement, and despite a very brief and light 'why not me', I actually wasn't too bothered.  In fact I do believe that I am happy for her.  Wooot, what a breakthrough.  I think I am finally at that point in my infertility journey that I accept people are going to get pregnant before I do.  And I think it helps that I only have SIX!!!!! rosters of work left, so I don't (or won't) have to watch her get bigger and more excited as the birth date approaches.  It also helps that another lady at work also struggles with infertility (and I thin she has been trying for a lot longer with her husband than TJL and myself).

I think it also helps that we are progressing with IVF (first appointment 30 September), and if that fails then we have the home for life option.  Of course I still go in swings and round-a-bouts with my emotions, but today I feel good.  Positive and strong.

And I have managed to fold and PUT AWAY (I hardly ever put away) 2 loads of washing, and I have another load in the washing machine as I type.  I also cooked tea (despite being a work day for me).  And am about to get on the indoor cycle and do a quick 15 minutes before bed.

Positive and strong!  I like it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life moving at warp speed


It feels like life is moving at warp speed at the moment.  I know it's not, and other people are far busier than I am, but there sure does seem to be a lot going on.

To top it off we had another dump of snow!  This one was a lot deeper than the 25th of July.   Fortunately this time there was only one calf born on the night of the dump, and two the following night (with snow still hanging around).  Also, this time I was on days off, so I was available to help TJL as required.

Today we had a home study visit from CYF's.  This meant that, while I should have had the house tidied over my previous days off, I left it to the last minute, and it took me around 4 hours today (not to mention the 8 or so hours I spent tidying my desk area.  I.  Am.  A.  Slob.  But now the house looks fab.u.lous (tidiness wise), I love it.  So my first goal is to keep it this way for the next four days (days that I am working).  And my next goal is to actually begin CLEANING the house (windows and walls mostly).

The CYF's visit went really well.  I think our plan of attack might be to do one round of IVF, and if that is unsuccessful, to then get onto domestic adoption (highly unlikely) and/or home for life.

So I now have to 
1.  Start planning our wedding
2.  Contact the IVF clinic and confirm or change the date they have given us
3.  Start writing our adoption profile
4.  Start writing our home for life profile
5.  Get researching upcoming horse events to get back out and start photographing.

And on that note, the rest of the snow pics are following (not the greatest as I used my old camera, and didn't muck around with appeture (sp?) etc, so they are a bit sucky)

Looking back to the neighbours property.

Looking back towards our house.

Calf trailer.

TJL picking up only calf born the first night.

Back paddocks.

Stachurski Twins tucking into their hay

Looking back towards the cow and calf sheds

Our house

Stella the snow dawg
There was even enough snow in the paddocks to grab out my old snowboard and have a couple of falls down one of our hills

TJL just used my board with his gumboots (and even then he is still way better at it than me)

Stella the rescue dog in full flight!


Monday, August 08, 2011

Just do something

My new book arrived today, entitled 'Just Do Something'.  TJL has comandeered it already, which is a good thing, even though I bought it for myself.  I have written the title up on our notice board in the kitchen, as I think it is quite a simple 'saying', and exactly what I need.

I am, currently, a hopeless housekeeper.  Seriously, hopeless.  That goes for gardening too.   I don't know whether it is procrastination, laziness, or I'm just a waiter ... you know, waiting for a miracle to happen and the house tidies itself, garden weeds, plants and harvests itself (hasn't happened yet, but I keep waiting).

You know what I am good at.  Reading and watching about housekeeping and gardening.  I get ALL the magazines, and watch plenty of TV (my biggest problem perhaps), and read lots of blogs.  And I admire and love all the houses and gardens I see, but when it comes to getting off my behind and actually doing anything to our own place, well I just don't.  And so I am applying the 'Just do something' philosophy.  This has resulted in our CYF's forms being filled in AND emailed.  My forms to get a replacement degree certificate signed, witnessed, and ready to post.  My lunch for tomorrow ready.  My DVD's removed from their cases and put into 'folders'.  A sorting of some knicknacks, including photos sent to my mother and sister, to see if they want any before I get rid of them.  Giving a bag of clothes to the SPCA shop.  Washing being washed, and other being folded.  Supermarket shop shopped.

I just have to keep it up!


Saturday, August 06, 2011

I'm engaged, 1 friend is pregnant, and 1 friend got a job in Aucks

So TJL proposed to me on 'Snow Day', July 25th.  Yay!  It was quite romantic as he 'popped the question' while we were snuggled up on the couch after such an eventful day of snow, and calf rescue etc.

I headed home and saw my folks last days off, so told everyone there, and they were all so pleased, as TJL fits in well, and is a hard worker.

The only downer was when I went to tell my friend J, before I could she announced she was pregnant.  Of course she is.  They had only been trying for one or two months, and he is paralysed (not that I see that as a 'problem' as such, just thought it would take them a wee bit longer than what it did).  She has done acupuncture, and this is why she is recommending it for me, because 'that is all it's going to take for us to get pregnant'.  I do plan to give it a go, but I have a feeling it is just like all the other 'try harder', 'stop trying so hard', 'stop stressing about it', 'once you adopt you will get pregnant' etc stories.  So while her news slightly upset me, I did get over it pretty quickly and was pleased for her, but I still feel pretty jealous.  Then to top that all off she said 'We will be finding out the sex when we can as I will be 'devestated' if it's a girl'.  They only plan to have one.  Rule number 1, never, ever say something like that to someone who has been trying for 2 years to have a baby, fullstop!

And another friend from 'back home' has landed herself a job in Auckland.  This is fabulous news, as the job she had was awful!  The new one sounds awesome.

And these days off I am supposed to be getting the house in order for a visit from CYF's, before we can really get onto the domestic adoption/foster bandwagon.  8 weeks until I am 'unemployed', and while I am somewhat nervous (have worked pretty much since I was 18), I can not wait!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My first ever SNOW DAY

I was going to post about my fabulous weekend with my friends from school (of which we left 22 years ago!) but then today happened.  Disclaimer for poor quality photos, I was trying to work on the farm AND take photos so was just pointing and shooting lickity split, which is NOT good in snow.  Oh, and I have been in snow, many many times, just not where I have been able to take the day off because of it.

So, I had no idea that today was different to any other work day, except for when I went out the door to head off for work and encountered this .....

Last time it snowed here was about 3 years ago, and it was about 8pm at night, and all gone by morning.  Today it actually was still snowing at lunch-time.  I did drive very slowly into work, leaving at 5.20am and arriving a bit late at 6.08, only to have the boss ring up at 7.40am to say she would not be in for work due to the snow, and that those of us who lived in her area, and further north, were to go home as it was still snowing and we might get stuck.  Turns out we would have been fine, but I don't turn down days off work, plus TJL really needed me on the farm today so I think I may have come home anyway.

My first job was to feed the Stachurski Twins (we got them from Trents Sister, and that's their surname ... I always did like to stir up a bit of trouble).  TJL's boss's house, and then our house are in the background.  

Stella the Snow Dawg, she had a BLAST.  Love it, and tried to catch the snowflakes and ...

generally rolling around in the freezing cold stuff.  Crazy dawg!

The springer cows tucking into their hay (excuse the snow splodges on the lens).  They are turning their heads as they were getting pelted with snow, and it was quite hard!  (Springer cows are the ones who are due to have their babies sooner rather than later).

Springer mob with Stella Dawg in the foreground.

A bit hard to see in this piccy but we had 4 calves born in this 'awful' weather (awful for newborns, awesome too look at).  These calves were freezing, and I though we might lose a couple of them.  One of the two 'danger zone' ones had a good drink, which warmed him right up so I knew he would be fine.  The other one was much worse and would not drink.  After drying all the bub's off with towels, I wrapped them all up in hay blankets (two are pictured, the dark blobs are their heads).  The blankets worked a treat, as when we went back down to give them their afternoon feed (at 3pmish) they were all up and moving around, so a fantastic success.  And they all had a fantastic drink, so totally rapt!  Only one more calf was born today.  Poor bubba was covered in mud, so he got a wash in warm water, dried off, and is now in a hay blanket in the shed with all the other bubbas.

And finally TJL decided to make a snow angel, with Stella Dawg helped with great enthusiasm.  Crazy, crazy day, and totally awesome too!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Maps are printed, I'm good to go ... hopefully

I am off on a very quick road-trip today.  First stop will be to pick up my best friend from High School, C, in Cambridge.  I do not need a map on how to get there (although I did last time since we hardly ever see each other).

Next stop, hopefully a car park in Auckland that is not too much of a walk from Vector Arena, for the ice-hockey tonight.  I do hope that, since I have not been back to Auckland since my marriage break-up (unless you count the airport), I don't get too lost.  Auckland is one confusion of a big city for me.

Then back to C's for a 'sleep over' (which I am NOT very good at doing!  Home, I'm fine (obviously), sisters house, parents house, all fine.  Motels, hotels, fine.  Other peoples houses, not so good (I like a private bathroom ... lol)).

Tomorrow first stop, hopefully a bakery in Cambridge for some Choc. Eclairs or Donuts.  Next stop, my other best friend from High School, H, in rural Morrinsville.  Haven't been there for DONKEYS!  Not since her second child was born, which I don't know is how long ago!

And then back home to TJL.  I so wish he was coming, it would make the trip so much more enjoyable for me.  But we are just too busy on the farm so he needs to stay :-(  It's only one night, and he will LOVE having the bed all to himself, but still ....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yes! But no ....

So I invited my old school friend H to accompany my other old school friend C and I to an ice-hockey match this weekend (USA v Canada - not the actual representative teams, just exhibition teams).  She said yes!  And I was so excited as I have not seen her for YEARS.  Then they had some chaos on the farm so now she is unable to come ... BOOOO!  But I am still going to call around and see her on Sunday, so that's something.  Of course, since I am around 25kg heavier than the last time she saw me I am feeling a lot nervous, I know she will be just as gorgeous and glamorous as ever.  Why oh why am I always so insecure!  Blah!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another frost and we are out of gas

It was pretty cold this morning.  Unfortunately we are Out. Of. Gas which means the heating was not working, which meant brrrrrr until the sun got up enough to stream through the windows and I could sit in a warm, sunny spot.

I got a bit carried away doing the dishes this morning.  I ended up cleaning the oven (boy did it need it, and it probably needs to be done again).  And then I got TJL to pull the oven away from the wall and I cleaned under and behind it - talk about manky - manky - manky!!  Ewwwww!  Not to mention the extraction fan. Practically impossible to clean in-between the venty bits.  I used a nail brush as well as a dish brush, and it still wasn't perfectly clean, but hey any cleaner is better than no cleaner.  And I cleaned the bathtub/shower.

We went into Stratty for lunch, which wasn't terribly flash.  I also went into Paper Plus and purchased Bear Grylls latest book, which I am keen to get started.  I read his first book (I think it was) about his ascent of Everest, and it was the best ever climbing book I have read.  Of course I lent it to someone, who lent it to someone and now it's gone, but I do have a rule that I don't lend anything I am not prepared to lose so que serra or whatever it is.  Before I can begin this book I need to finish Tony Hawks book, which shouldn't take me too long.

This afternoon TJL and I took Stella Dawg for a walk down the farm.  TJL said to the cows, c'mon girls, time to get calving!  And I said, one has, hasn't it?  That hawk just picked up some afterbirth? (sorry if that is too disgusting but it is what happened).  TJL told me it was an old one, but perhaps we should go up and check it out.  He checked it out from over the fence and said, its and old one.  To which I said no its not, the calf is up there with it's mother.  One to me!  Yes!  Not that I'm keeping score or anything ... lol.  So thats 4 calves in (the one today is a bobby, which we have to keep and feed up for the next month due to TJLs wee drenching hiccup).

I made a stir-fry for dinner tonights tea.  Chicken coated in chinese five spice and flour, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, corgette, and mushroom, with a bit of garlic and ginger.  Was scrummy!!  Unfortunately TJL had to leave 5 minutes before it was ready so that annoyed me quite a bit.  Sometimes his friend says 'jump' and TJL jumps *sigh*.  He said something about a trailer and daylight *bah*.

So I am home, alone, with no gas for the heater as the delivery truck did not come today, but I do have my candles lit and a good book to read, so all is pretty right with the world.

Monday, July 18, 2011

UGH!!

Woke up at 4am, and felt sick.  But at that time of the morning you never really know, ah?!  So when I woke back up at the correct time of 4.45am I wasn't as bad, so thought I might get better the later it got.  I took a neurofen in the hopes I would feel better and headed off to work.  Didn't work!  I ended up leaving at 7.45am to get back home.  I feel bad as I have let my manager down due to the fact I was supposed to be interviewing today, but there was no way I could interview anyone, my mind just wasn't there - thumping headache and nausea.

Thus I have spent the day on the couch, watching bad TV and falling asleep.  Unfortunately TJL's mother decided to arrive with two of our nieces, which wasn't perfect timing and I was a  TERRIBLE  host.  I don't like being caught out by surprise, and my instant reaction is to be angry.  Thus I 'apologised' and said that I was sick before they even got out of the car!  AWESOME  WELCOME  MJJ!  So they came in and TJL hosted them while I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself that my day of 'relaxation' on the couch had been interrupted.  And then, as I sat on the couch, I realised what an idiot I was being, but then it was too late to pop up and decide that I wasn't as sick as I was making out.  ARGHHHHH!  Why do I do this?  It is almost like a panic reaction when things aren't going as I 'planned'.  Part of it is that the house is in a constant state of mess, and I am embarrassed.  Part of it is that I am quite a loner, and I struggle with working with people for 12 hours, and then dealing with people on my days off, and I just never, ever get any real alone time, and by alone time I mean a few days to a week all. by. myself!  I hope that my outlook changes when I get to quit my job in a few months time and become a farmers wife.  Hopefully, as I won't be surrounded by people, I will begin to want more human contact and be more open to visitors.  It is definitely an area I need to work on.  Definitely one of my biggest failings.

I am such a terrible sinner, I am so glad that God gives us such grace, I definitely need more than my fair share!

Back on roster - bah humbug

We went back on roster yesterday.  The other laboratories where I work didn't.  This meant that the lab that delivers the products for us to test, were not at work yesterday.  This means I didn't have anything to test (aside from 30 cheese's for moistures left over from Friday).  And when you are rostered to work from 6am-6pm, and you have no leave left, this makes for an EXTREMELY  LONG day!  I managed to last until 3.45pm, so took 2.25 hours as leave without pay.  Today was better though, and I managed to work the entire 6am-6pm day *phew!*   And the bonus to being back on roster is that tomorrow is my last day, before 4. Days.  Off!   Yeah!  Actually I have five, as I am heading up North on Saturday to catch some ice-hockey and won't be able to return until Sunday.

My manager is going to see what he can do re back-pay for my degree.  He said it's not looking good and HR said that I should have read all of the literature and found out for myself what extra payments I could get.  I said that I trusted my employer to let me know what I was entitled to.  Especially since my manager at the time of the interview KNEW I had a degree and NEGLECTED to tell me I would get an extra payment, when everyone else had/has been advised.  But I shall let my current manager do his best, and then let it go.  It's only money.

And now I am going to have a hot lemon drink to try and get rid of this slight cold I have.  Tomorrow I am assisting in interviews of our potential future employees and trying to interview while blowing ones nose constantly does not make a good impression.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My one day off

I had such a fun day off.  We got up really late, like around 8am!  Whoops!

After breakfast this morning I headed into H-town to do our supermarket shop.  Bought lots of fresh veges, and a few more GladWare containers, and who knows what else as it cost me over $200.00.  I also planned to get some photos printed off, but the lab was shut when I was there, so it will have to be sometime during the week.

After I got home TJL and I headed into NP to go to Puke Ariki for the Peter Bush exhibition.  Peter Bush is the worlds top rugby photographer and TJL being a rugby fan, and me being a photo fan, it was the perfect exhibition.  I was a little disappointed that it was only his rugby photographs on display (but I guess that IS what the exhibition was about) and it was also a shame there were none of the 1981 Springboks Tour that resulted in mass demonstrations and rioting due to the apartheid rule in South Africa at the time.  There are some awesome photos Spingbok Tour Riots 1981 about.

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I was 10 at the time, and I distinctly remember my dad heading off to the match at Hamilton's Rugby Park, only to have him return home not having seen anything as riots got the game cancelled.  Dad said, in later years, he thinks the protestors were in the right, but with games against South Africa not occurring as often as they do now, and the fact they were the All Blacks (ironic that our national team is named the All Blacks, playing a white apartheid SA team (our team are named after their jersey colour just in case there is any confusion out there)) then it was a game all keen rugby fans wanted to see (depended on whether your idea for social justice outweighed your love of the game or not!)

Any way, back on track.  After enjoying the exhibition we had lunch at Puke Ariki's cafe.  It was DELICIOUS!  A bit expensive, but what the heck, we have two incomes and no kids, gotta be some benefits somewhere!

After lunch we went to Briscoes, as I wanted a wok, and I was keen to see what the prices were.  One thing about Briscoes, you never buy anything from there unless it's on sale, and they are just about ALWAYS having a sale.  So I found a cast-iron wok (which is what I wanted as heat in cast-iron is unbeatable, IMO).  And what would you know, the cast-iron wok was $69.99 and had a discount of $41.99 so a BARGAIN at $28.00  SOLD!!  I also saw 'mink' blankets (well a lady had one coming out as we were heading in), so I tracked them down.  Now TJL thinks they are 'tacky' but ohhh, they are so cosy to sit under on the couch in winter ... like NOW!  So I saw some advertised for $35.00, and while TJL nearly talked me out of it, he didn't and I now have my tacky 'mink' blanket!  The only choice of colours was either cream (which I got) or bright lime green.  I didn't know the discount until I got home.  Mink blanket was $109.99 with a discount of $74.99!  YES!!  Such a profitable day.

Once we got home I made some Leek and Potato Soup, and cooked up some old apples for puree (to add flavour to my porridge), and I walked the dog before putting her to bed.  TJL has gone out to the local rugby club as his old team was playing today.  He still had not returned home as yet, so perhaps I should have put the farm bike away (too dark and cold now!)

And so my 1 day off this week is almost over, back on roster tomorrow, how I am going to manage a 12 hour day is beyond me, but I shall have to tough it out, as I have no leave left ... boo hoo!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goals for the year

In no particular order ...

1.  Grow closer and more knowledgeable with God
         Daily:  10 minutes allowing God to speak to me
                     10 minutes bible reading
         Weekly:  Church
         Monthly:  Christian reading in addition to the bible

2.  Get fit and healthy
         Daily: Walk 30 minutes
                    Eat more fruit and vegetable, less sugar including soft drinks
         Weekly:  Walk 1-1.5 hours
         Monthly:  0.5-1.0 day tramp

3.  Grow closer and more intimate with TJL
         Daily:  Kiss him like I mean it
                     Tell him that I love him
         Weekly:  Lunch date
         Monthly:  Dinner date

4.  Spend more time with Stella-Dog
          Daily:  Walk 30 minutes
                      Feed
         Weekly:  Game and/or training
                        Clean and tidy kennel
          Monthly:  Walk somewhere off-farm

5.  Improve the house and garden
          Daily:  Dishes
                      General pick-up
         Weekly:  Floors
                        Bathroom
                        Vegetable garden
          Monthly:  Windows
                           Dust
                           Flower garden

6.  Increase farm knowledge and skills
           Daily:  Records
                       Calves on days off
           Weekly:  Milk x 2 (x 1 until house/farmers wife)
           Monthly:  Farm walk with plate meter to measure grass

Wish me God's grace to achieve all of this!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not impressed

I learned today that, for the past three years, I should have been getting an extra payment at work for having a degree.  It sounds like I WON'T be able to get this in back pay.  I feel ripped off.  I hope that people are wrong and my lab co-ordinator can get it sorted for me tomorrow.  To make myself feel better, I know I was in the wrong mindset the last three years, and I would have just spent it anyway, but still ... *sigh*  I am still a bit gutted by the whole thing.  At least I will get the payment for my last 11 weeks at work, and that's something.

TJL and I went in and had our blood tests today.  I don't know how long it will take for the results to come in.  I hope, and pray that all will be fine.  I won't completely relax until I get the results.  Once this is done, hopefully we can get onto the IVF waiting list.  Please, oh please, oh please let it all run as smoothly as possible!!

The weather is still awful.  I ended up driving at around 60kph on a 100kph road today, I just could not see through the rain on the windscreen, I couldn't even see enough to pull over safely, so I just drove super slowly along the road.  Everyone else must have been struggling too, as no one ended up on my back bumper, so that took a bit of pressure off of me.

Two more days of work, one day off, three days of work then FIVE  DAYS  OFF!!  I  CAN'T  WAIT!!

IVF journey begins, perhaps

Had my mid-cycle scan with Dr Fufu this afternoon.  Lucky I made it there in one piece as the weather was atrocious!  Wind and hardcore rain, twas a slow journey.

So I have two follicles that are a bit on the small side.  Might mature by Friday but Dr Fufu didn't sound very hopeful.  If I am not preggers this month, then she will refer us for IVF.  She has to refer us now as I am fast approaching 40, and we need to get onto the list before then, or we can't get our first cycle free.

Today, for the first time, she said my lining was not uniformly 'thick'.  Usually I am told that my lining is great.  She thought it was a bit 'bumpy' today, which could mean polyps which will have to be removed before IVF. Apparently these can prevent the implantation into the wall.

Another 'before we can get on the list' we have to have an HIV test each.  Now this makes me nervous, simply because, in my past life, I wasn't exactly well behaved, and while I really don't think I will test positive, I do still worry, because there is a remote chance I picked up something nasty way, way, way back in my early 20's.

I also have to have a BMI of less than 32.  She said that mine was currently 31, so just in.  I think I might be a bit heavier now so I actually think I am 33.  That said, the diet starts NOW.  Surely this will inspire me to lose weight.  If this doesn't nothing will.  I only have to lose, bah ha ha ONLY, yeah right, I have to lose around 5kg to get under the threshold, but I am SURE if I lose the weight, and more, it can only help our pregnancy chances.

If we do manage to get onto the waiting list it could be 12-18 MONTHS!  Really!! Not impressed!!!  However, should this be the case we can go private, which will cost $11,000.00, so that might end up being our best option ... TJL didn't say a heck of a lot when I mentioned it, but he takes a bit of time and 'thinks about it' whereas I give my initial reaction straight away.

So a bit of a disappointing appointment today, but onward and upward we go.  The only one who has any influence on our situation is the good Lord above, and I have to trust that He know's what He's doing and that it will be the right thing for us.  Patience, MJJ, Patience!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Work place gossip

What is it about humans that we love to gossip, in fact I think some people even crave it.  It drives me nuts at work, the amount of gossip there is.  What drives me nuts further is that I can't control myself and willingly participate.

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Image from Google Images




So why do I do it?  I actually think that it stems from a wanting to 'belong', because even though I say I 'don't care' that I don't fit in, and I 'don't care' what others think of me, and I actually don't envision myself being 'friends' with the vast majority of them, I still want to be accepted as one of them.  What is it about the human condition that means we crave acceptance, even from those we don't particularly like?    I do manage to go for periods of time where I don't participate in these conversations, but it really just means that I work mostly in silence, and even then it doesn't stop people approaching and engaging me in gossip conversations.  I guess I just have to work harder in driving conversations in other directions.  What I need is a list of topics to achieve this .... oh it might just be easier to stay quiet.

All the gossip also means that the work environment is split into cliques, which is what happens at High School, not a workplace full of women from their 20's to their 60's, and to be perfectly honest it tends to be the older ones who gossip the most.  Not to mention the 'nastiness' that they direct towards others in the company - people who they deem to eat too much 'that guy always has a HUGE breakfast, look at how many eggs he has', people who have conditions such as turrets, it's just total juvenile behaviour and it makes me really uncomfortable.  

I am just clinging onto the fact that I only have 12 weeks to go!  Hooray!  I just have to keep my mouth shut, and my brain active until then (well beyond then too!)  Starting with tomorrow, I shall not gossip!  I shall not speak ill of anyone (including other drivers on the road)!  And I shall change my train of thought each time I get judgemental about people engaging in activities that I do not agree with, and each time I get jealous of other people, I shall direct my train of thought towards my many blessings.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Whirlwind trip to see the Fam.

This is our 4 year old niece T.  A cheeky, yet sensitive soul.  Please excuse the quality of photos, for some reason my on camera flash won't work, very frustrating!

We did a quick, one night trip, to see my family in Waipukurau, this weekend.  It had to be this weekend as I work 5 days this week, and only have one day off before resuming my roster with 3 days on.  TJL will be on calving duty by the 20th July, so it was this weekend, or no go until May (for TJL) to get over.

This is our 2 (in three weeks time) year old nephew C.  He is very much a mumma's boy, who uses a pitiful 'hep me, hep me' when he wants to be picked up, from anywhere, definitely gets what he wants most of the time.

We also caught up with my parents, they cooked us a delicious roast lamb dinner with kumera, and spud, etc.  Was scrummy!  

This is our 7 year old niece G.  Poor thing had been horribly sick, but was perking up a bit before we left.

The weather was terrible, so lucky the company was great!  Not to mention we slept in until 10.00 this morning!  Feel soooo guilty, but it felt sooooo good!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Rainy days and free plants


Today it has been raining.  A lot.  Real heavy rain.  It's not unusual for Taranaki.  Especially now we are right in the middle of Winter!  A lot of rain means mud.  Driving the tractor means tractor mud tracks.  Proof that TJL has been busy.

It also means that the cows pug the paddocks.  When this happens, once the grass has 'taken off' a bit, one needs to 'roll' the paddocks (one being TJL) to reduce the pug marks, as once they set in Summer it is quite easy to roll your ankle in one as they end up like concrete.

Fortunately it did stop raining long enough to walk Stella the Wonder Dog.  She's a classic!  She makes me laugh every day, especially with her love of her toys.  So CUTE!  

Work wanted to get rid of a spider plant today.  Me being the 'Ohhhh I'll take it' kind of person that I am said 'Ohhhh I'll take it!'.  This is what it looked like, all one sided with lots of babies hanging off of it.  The pot beside the plant contains the remains of a plant I have killed earlier.

After a bit of 'separating' I now have two pots of spider plants.  Time will tell if they take or die, as I was quite brutal with their root systems.  All the baby plants I have stuck back in the original pot and put under the eves of the house.  If they survive, they survive - hopefully being under the eves the frosts won't get them.  I just don't have the space available inside, at present, to house them all without them overpowering and crowding the place.

And last but not least, Cluck Cluck (well I think it's Cluck Cluck, it might be Maggie) one of our three delightful chickens.  They are such characters, and currently very involved in consuming the remaining beetroot plants in the vege garden.  I LOVE my chickens!  Not that keen on their calling cards or their destruction of our garden, but the eggs!  Wonderful!

Plus I have booked an Acupuncture appointment, for October!  Yes she is booked up until then.  I figure that means she is a great practicioner (oh the spelling on that one may be WAY off!)  Hopefully it might help with our fertility woes, AND my weight problems.  I know  what I am doing wrong but I need the motivation to STOP consuming harmful things, like sugar and fats, and start being more kind to my body.

Hopefully when I finish work in October I will feel far more motivated to get moving, a lot faster than I do for the dog walks, and the weight will come off.

And now I patiently await the return of TJL with tea .... YUM!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Cook my little leftovers, cook

TJL was out rolling paddocks when I got home today, Stella the dog and I discovered him when we went for our walk.  So, being the housewife in training, I decided that I would cook tonights dinner.

Super easy!

We had leftover potato, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower so I have whacked that all into a dish, with a bit of onion and covered it with cheese sauce and put it into the oven.  I made the cheese sauce a little thick, but never mind.  I could have thinned it with a bit more milk I guess - oh well too late now!  I use Edam Cheese, which is a low fat cheese that I like BUT thinking about it today I do use A LOT in dishes to get a bit more flavour in.  I think I might get a small block of tasty or similar next time I am shopping, that way I can mix the two so we get a bit more flavour, as well as a decent consistency.

It addition to our vege bake I am going to make Chinese 5 Spice Chicken.  Super easy, chop up some chicken (I use skinless boneless thighs, cheaper and more succulent than breast), and chuck it in a bag of flour mixed with Chinese 5 Spice, and then I fry.  Hmmmmm, I might try doing them in the oven for a low fat version.  Since I have the oven on 'n' all.  Hopefully TJL won't complain TOO much ... lol.  He did say he wanted fried, but it can't hurt to try it just the once.

And so, thus, I must go and prepare the chicken .....

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Taxes are done! Yes!

I finally got off my chuff and got my taxes all done and ready to post off tomorrow, and since they don't have to be there until the 7th I am actually ahead of time this year.  Last year I did them online the night before - talk about making ones life more stressful than it needs to be.

As per usual I have told myself that THIS year I will keep on top of it throughout the year, so they will be all good to go early, time will tell if I manage to achieve this, or not.  No doubt my transition from 'lab technician' to 'farmers housewife' will enable this.  I just can't wait for this to happen.  Time and energy to really get our home clean and decorated, to get our vege garden productive and flower gardens overflowing, to cook nice, healthy meals for TJL and I every day, and to have time to exercise and get fit.  Have I said that I CAN'T WAIT!!??  Not to mention time to actually plan my blog posts, rather than my incoherrent ramblings.

I have also finally got everything 'packed away' from our holiday.  Not quite perfect, I mean my clothes are in a tidy pile on my dressing table and not in the drawers, but this is mostly due to the fact nothing else will fit in my drawers.  I really do need to do a full on throw out, again.  Plus it is a gorgeous winters day today, so my washing is out in the hopes that it will mostly dry, and I will just need to use the dryer as a finish off.

And my work desk is kinda tidy too!  Tidy enough to be able to fit my computer onto it, so I MUST use that area as my office, instead of dragging everything out to the living room and making a gigantic mess in there.  I must stop putting everything that I plan to 'file away later' on my desk, and file it at the time.  It took me HOURS yesterday to get it sorted, surely 1 minute filing at the time is SO MUCH EASIER!  Perhaps I need to write myself a sign to put over my desk that tells me that.

Today we are off to a basketball game (2nd to last of the season), and since the game is early, at 4.00pm, then we plan to head out to dinner afterwards - JOY!  Speaking of which I must head off and get myself showered and ready to go, I'm so excited!  I love going out for dinner.